In the early hours of Tuesday morning, during the late hours of the Columbia City Council meeting, Mayor Bob McDavid made a proposal - increase an already-low property tax.
McDavid proposed the city raise property taxes by 30 cents to fund increased staffing at Columbia's police and fire departments. The 11-year tax would start small. If approved by voters, property tax would rise by five cents beginning 2015. Every other year, the tax would increase another five cents, eventually reaching 30 cents by 2025.
In his State of the City address, City Manager Mike Matthes said a proposed property tax hike would be inevitable. Due to the city's low property tax compared to towns of comparable size, he said administration would focus on raising it to fund issues like roads and crime prevention.
"The best way to fund that is property tax, because it doesn't go away in a recession," Matthes said, comparing it to sales tax. "It stays constant. So for those core needs, property tax is the way to go."
Mayor McDavid offered a 20-cent property tax increase last year to pay for more police officers. However, he dropped that plan because of opposition from the Columbia Police Officers Association.
City Council needs to approve any proposed tax increase by August in order to put it on the November 2014 ballot.